President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday launched a fresh campaign for total removal of fuel subsidy.
This is coming barely a year after the president launched a similar campaign and forcefully removed subsidy with the price of petroleum product skyrocketing by more than 120 percent.
According to Jonathan, the total removal of subsidy on petroleum products would attract investors to the oil sector and put an end to the importation of petroleum products as it is currently being done.
His Excellency started the fresh campaign for a total removal of subsidy while receiving the report of the graduating participants of the Senior Executive Course 34, 2012, of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “Why is it that people are not building refineries in Nigeria despite that it is a big business? It is because of the policy of subsidy, and that is why we want to get out of it.”
He noted that though he argued that while the total removal of subsidy could be painful to Nigerians, they would be happier at the end if they could bear the initial pains.
Jonathan said, “To change a nation is like surgery. If you have a young daughter of five years who has a boil at a very strategic part of the face, you either as a parent leave that boil because the young girl will cry or you take the girl to the surgeon.
“So you have the option of just robbing metholatum on the face until the boil will burst and disfigure her face or you take that child to the surgeon. On the sighting of a scalpel of the surgeon alone, the child will start crying.
“But if she bears the pains and do the incision and treat it, after some days or weeks, the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady.
“There are certain decisions that government must take that may be painful at the beginning and people must be properly informed so that they will be ready to bear the pains.”
“I believe that you do not need a lifetime to change a nation. Under 10 years, Nigeria can change and people will not even believe that this is Nigeria again. Immediately you come up with strong policies in key sectors of the economy and keep it for 10 years, the change will be astronomical,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments has further beamed its search light on some oil firms alleged to have engaged in fraudulent and sharp practices that almost paralyzed the nation’s oil sector, under the fuel subsidy regime.
The removal of fuel subsidy was indeed a gritty welcome to 2012. After the fuel subsidy was removed within hours, exhilaration of “Happy New Year” turned to elegies of ‘Hardship New Year’.
As the crazy hike took its toll, motorists bought fuel across the country at differential prices that ranged from N140 to N250 per litre. By the next day, whatever illusion anyone had about the year evaporated in the face of the grim reality on the street.